Hiko-nyan runners at Tokyo Marathon 2012

The massive Tokyo Marathon was held on Feb. 26, 2012. Out of almost 300,000 applicants, about 36,000 lucky people got to run from 9:10 am to 4:10 pm. I was near the finish line and saw these two Hiko-nyan runners. Being an Olympic year, this was an important race for the Japanese runners seeking to qualify for London. Also, the Biwako Mainichi Marathon to be held in Otsu, Shiga on March 4 will also be a crucial race as an Olympic qualifier. Like or share this:

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Setsubun at Taga Taisha Shrine

February 3 is the Setsubun Festival at many temples and shrines in Japan. It marks the beginning of spring according to the lunar calendar. They yell, “Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!” (鬼は外! 福は内!) while they throw beans at ogre to eliminate the evil (oni) of the previous year and bring in good fortune (fuku). In Shiga Prefecture, the most impressive Setsubun festival is held at Taga Taisha Shrine in Taga town. They have impressive ogre (called oni in Japanese) dancers from Shimane Prefecture to act as the demons to chase away during the festival. The bean-throwing is called mame-maki. They

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Fire festivals in Moriyama

Video link: http://youtu.be/n-SfD9DFxOg Katsube Shrine (勝部神社) and Sumiyoshi Shrine (住吉神社) in Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture will hold their annual Hi-matsuri fire festivals (火まつり) on the evening of Jan. 14, 2012. Saturday. The twin fire festivals are related to each other and held at the same time. You can only see one of them, but I recommend Katsube Shrine’s fire festival because they burn more torches. The festival starts with a Shinto ceremony at the shrine at 6 pm. Then they march around the neighborhood while beating a taiko drum. You can see the giant torches made of straw at the shrine. The

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New Year’s worshippers in Shiga

The Shiga Prefectural Police Department has estimated that 1.31 million people will pray at shrines and temples in Shiga during the first three days of 2012. This is more than New Year’s in 2011. Going to pray at a shrine or temple during New Year’s is called hatsumode (初詣). Shiga’s most popular shrines during New Year’s and the estimated number of worshippers during the first three days of the 2012 have been announced as follows: 1. Taga Taisha Shrine (多賀大社) in Taga, next to Hikone, 470,000 worshippers 2. Nagahama Hachimangu Shrine (長浜八幡宮) in Nagahama, 150,000 worshippers 3. Omi Jingu Shrine (近江神宮)

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Hiko-nyan runner at Tokyo Marathon 2011

I watched and photographed the 5th Tokyo Marathon on Feb. 27, 2011 at Tokyo Big Sight. It was a warm, sunny day for over 33,000 runners chosen by lottery from among a staggering 330,000 applicants. There were 106 runners from Shiga Prefecture. I saw two runners wearing Hiko-nyan and I got a picture of one of them. Too bad he was running on the other side of where I was standing. Couldn’t get a clearer shot. The other runner had a small Hiko-nyan doll on his cap. Unfortunately, I missed photographing him since I was shooting another scene with a

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Taga Taisha Setsubun

On Feb. 3, 2009, I went to see Setsubun mame-maki at Taga Taisha Shrine in Taga for the first time. They had an Oni demon dance group from Shimane-ken to act as the oni. They wore a gorgeous costume and they were the best-looking oni I ever saw for Setsubun. See my video and photos: Video link: http://youtu.be/41epqjNMG8s Photos: https://photoguide.jp/pix/thumbnails.php?album=727 Like or share this:

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Hikone Castle at 2007 Sapporo Snow Festival

Looks like Hikone Castle will be one of the major snow sculptures at next year’s Sapporo Snow Festival in Feb. It will be the 400th anniversary of the castle, and Hikone is holding various events next year. I’m sure they are extremely happy that the castle will be built at the snow festival. It’s very good PR. I’ve been to the snow festival once, and I have to call it one of Japan’s Top Five Festivals. It’s truly awesome. And also very international with many groups from overseas carving smaller snow sculptures. The only problem is that it is impossible

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